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Kabompo, Zambia (Southern Africa)

Expedition Report

sunset over Kabompo River, canoe dock (Kabompo)

Botswana sunset @Ihaha Camp in Chobe Nat'l Park, overlooking Chobe River (towards Namibia)

lion & prey (Cape Buffalo) in Chobe National Park, Botswana
[ the kill was made the previous night. I camped out only a few km away, along Chobe River (see sunset pic) ]

OUTER CORONA [ 2D-3D ] @mid-totality, digital composite
[ note bright prominence on lower right ]

Agfa 120 format scans by Dave Kodama

Baily's Beads @2nd contact (crop)

mid-totality (20mm lens)
[ very deep exposure: note the extent of the outer corona ]

Victoria Falls @sunset (Livingstone, Zambia)

plant with bean-like fruit

tree with bean-like fruit

wild orchid at Kazangula, Zambia (near Botswana border)

"The Flower of Africa"

I can describe my African Trip by the statement: ...The "Flower" of Africa... It describes rich wildlife & fauna, fed by the Zambezi River (which Livingstone wanted to develop Southern Africa around). Similarly, the observed '01 solar corona at solar-maximum (as in '99 Turkey), was truly a "flower" of immense & compelling beauty.

Africa beckoned..Africa delivered. Awesome Trip!

fern-like plant..with thorns! (Kazangula, Zambia)

"Danger & Delight Grow on the Same Stalk"
-- Scottish Proverb

This bit of insight proved to be prevalent throughout the entire trip. There was a lot of Pleasure ("Delight") on this trip, but there were Problems ("Danger") that one had to be aware of. My driver was constantly telling me of possible traps (robbery, theft, scams). He constantly warned me about getting to close to the shoreline (crocodiles..they will jump you! ). At our bushcamp at the Botswana border-crossing, he setup some dry brush & gave me matches: "if elephants stomp around, light this fire, they will run away". He was diligent in getting permission from property owners, when setting up a nighttime camp (we "bushcamped" 10 out of the 14 days there, for nighttime sky viewing). Without this, we could get into trouble with the authorities. My Botswana guide warned me about "pinching" (theft) by midnight canoeists (from Namibia). I experienced a major equipment problem prior to the eclipse & a few other glitches (typical), but fought my way through to get decent results. It was the result of really "Going For It", "Go for Broke" (motto of the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team). As Robby Gordon once said, "Go for the Gusto, Go for the Overall":

billboard in town, North of Lusaka

Mike Duncan's "extreme off-roader" Jeep (Burbank, CA)

"Today honey [ success ], tomorrow onions [ failure ]"
[ yom 'mussel, yom 'bussel ]
-- Arabic Proverb

I was pushing HARD (riding the "edge of disaster"), & I was constantly experiencing success (Ups) & failure (Downs). Mostly, little things. Thankfully, the main program was mostly "honey". The gremlins very nearly caught up with me for the eclipse (whew!)


I arrived in Kabompo 1 day before E-day, on June 20th. The Kabompo river revealed itself as the desirable place to setup an eclipse observation site. The immigration officer was contacted, & we went on a fact-finding trip. The car-ferry was broken (not uncommon in Zambia), so the only option was canoe. At first, I thought that nixed any chances of setting up on the eastern side of the river (to get a view of the west, with the river in the foreground). However, it was clear the canoe was a very smooth & reliable operation: the oarman demonstrated clear expertise. We crossed & found a suitable site along the banks of the Kabompo River. Permission from the property owner was granted, & we went back to transport the > 200 lbs of gear. The local villagers were busy doing their chores:

boy @Kabompo river-crossing

2 boys at village, across from Kabompo
I was able to setup the multiple-exposure camera (50mm lens), 24 hrs before totality the next day (3:01pm). An ox-cart transported the equipment to my site. The equipment was setup, the local farmers hung around to watch me (they would later camp out with me & my driver, to act as security guards).

main tracking platform: 2 corona cameras + prominence camera

observation site, viewed from island

loading equipment (200 lbs total) into canoe

equipment crossing the Kabompo River

loading ox cart with equipment

ox cart transport (from river, to observation site)
The night before E-day went down to the 30's, & frost accumulated over the equipment!

morning of eclipse: Mr. Sulu (driver), Paul Makina, Michael Katiki, Jon Shindanyi (left to right)

I slept on wheat branches, with some bedding (bought in Lusaka) & heavy wool blankets (loaned from ZASTI). It was a COLD night! But, I slept under the stars, & could see the Milky Way stretched above me (Mars overhead).

Despite some equipment problems (whew, it was close!), my eclipse program went off reasonably successfully.

main equatorial mount & multiple-exposure tripod

camera control center

I centered the sun in the 5" scope at ~1pm (30 minutes before 1st contact). The sun kept drifting out of the FOV (field of view), so something was wrong. (I interrupted this trouble-shooting, to start the CBL data-logger at 1:27:39 local time). I tried changing the azimuth on the GEM (german equatorial mount), but no go. I even disassembled the RA clutch, tightened it & the set-screw, still no go. Finally, 20 minutes before 2nd-contact (totality start), I realized I had the RA & Dec cables "reverse connected" to the mount!! I changed them to the correct configuration, & scrambled to catch up. Centered the 2 other scopes: prominence camera & backup 35mm corona camera. Another bug presented itself: the tangent assembly for the narrow-angle video camera didn't have enough travel, to center the sun! I used some tape to act as a shim, & the sun was in the bottom of the frame (at full zoom). I had to leave it (video is just an afterthought for my eclipse program, anyway), & go on. Then, another bug presented itself. The panorama platform was off by 90 degrees! (I fabricated an aluminum bracket at the last minute, at 3am on the morning of my departure flight. Because of sleep deprivation, it was misaligned by 90 degrees). I disassembled it twice, to correct it, but no go. I finally realized, I could put the horizon video-camera on the fixed tripod with the 7.5mm fisheye lens (unfortunately, it meant I couldn't do a spin-panorama with the video camera).

By this time, it was real close to 2nd contact, the light began to get very weird. Like being in a room, with a candle. The wheat fields around me, got real yellowish looking. (deja vu. Very much like Turkey in '99, where I was also in a wheat field). I scrambled, to mount the 3rd video camera to record shadow-bands. I re-centered the sun, & waited for 2nd contact. Because I was rushed (fearing I would miss 2nd contact), I spent too much film on 2nd contact. OTOH, I got a good long sequence for it. However, it had some long term effects: it prevented a good sequence for 3rd contact (but, I lost the wide-angle panorama for totality).

2nd contact sequence (wide-angle video)

At the onset of totality, I noticed a bright pinkish-red prominence on the lower right. (reminiscent of the '98 eclipse, where the "bottle-like" prominence was noticeable during 2nd contact).

bright prominence within a nest of coronal loops

Naked eye, the corona only extended ~1 sun-diameter on each side, due to the higher brightness of this eclipse. So, it didn't have the impact of the '99 eclipse (which was darker), where the outer corona was more apparent to the naked eye. I did notice the bluish sky at this eclipse (which I didn't in '99 Turkey). The cooling effect of the eclipse was exceptional, since I was alongside the Kabompo river. It got downright chilly! (due to evaporate cooling effect of water). The night before E-day, it got down to the 40's (frost even formed on my equipment!).

frost accumulation on cameras, lenses, cases

note the dew on binoculars

I quickly went thru my eclipse program: prominence camera to get chromosphere & prominences near 2nd contact. Then, a bracketed sequence on the main corona camera (1040mm on 120 format), then the backup 35mm corona camera.

1040mm on 120 format, corona composite

Then, the spin panorama. Except, the 20mm lens ran out of film (much of the film was spent on 2nd contact).

eclipsed sun & horizon @mid-totality, 20mm lens

I detached the Pentax 6x7 (120 format camera), & the entire platform slipped (out of balance, w/o camera)..but I caught it with my hands. I attached the 2nd Pentax 6x7 (loaded with TMAX100), & went thru the bracketed sequence.

1040mm on 120 format, corona composite

On the 2nd to last exposure, 3rd contact began. So, I quickly started my 3rd contact sequence.

3rd contact diamond-ring

I had planned 20 sec of binocular observation, but it was lost due to problems with the 2nd 6x7 body (I had to change batteries during totality). I did have some long naked-eye looks at the eclipsed sun, since I could fire off the cameras while looking up. One exposure was 8 secs, so I could stare at the sun for an extended period.

I would rate my performance, a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. I got most of my shots, but not all. I had to fight thru some nagging problems, but that's the "biz" of dragging a lot of hardware half-way across the world (to an isolated site). The fact that British Airways lost my 2nd check-in case on arrival to Lusaka, didn't help. (I noticed the green stickers by British Airways Security, so I assume they were concerned about my unusual looking Takahashi mount. It looks like a pipe-bomb! Possible IRA infiltrator?). It cost me an extra day of waiting, otherwise I would have been at the site 1 day earlier. Then, those bugs I ran into would have been fixed well in advance.

Right after 3rd contact, I'm sure I saw this large dark band coming towards me over the river. It was very large scale shadow band? My 3rd video-camera, shows rippling of very small scale shadow bands. I was completely oblivious to the sounds around me, during totality. The video camera audio revealed chirping crickets, a bird who was serenading very loudly, a cheering crowd (in the background). The narrow-angle video also showed a cluster insects flying front of the lens. The shadow-bands video camera, also showed these insects (& their shadows). The narrow-angle video also showed these insects, mosquitoes? (they typically come out at dusk):

insects buzzing around the video camera lens

The local farmers (observing 30 yards away), noticed interesting animal behavior. The goats lined up, & marched home. There were birds, who were flying away.

In a post-eclipse interview, the local farmers (Paul Makina & his relatives) gave me some interesting observations of the eclipse (I loaned them my 10x50 binoculars for viewing). They described a "rainbow", which is their description of the chromosphere at 2nd contact. They thought the corona had a yellowish hue (due to wavelength dependent atmospheric diffraction, there was a lot of bio-mass burning in Western Zambia). Deb Lein (observing across the river in Kabompo) thought the corona was a "bright white". Both, she & the local farmers noticed the shadow bands. Deb said that many of the locals hid-out in their houses for the eclipse (considered a bad omen, witchcraft), but came out after seeing the "rippling" shadow bands. Then, they took a look at the eclipse.

There was a funny scene after the eclipse. The local villagers were told by the village chief to stay away from my site (during eclipse), so I could work undistracted. After the eclipse, there was a large crowd of curious onlookers. (It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode, where townspeople were gazing at some extra terrestials). I was told, they were talking about me the day before the eclipse. They thought my equipment, reminded them of the Apollo Moon Landing (in the late 60's). So, they thought I was an "astronaut".

curious villagers observing the "astronaut"

In Turkey '99, I was asked by the local villagers: "Are you an astronaut?". I think they meant "amateur astronomer", it was a language translation glitch. In fact, there was an Apollo astronaut observing the eclipse, in Iran (Rusty Schweickart was with Dr. Alan Hale's group. I think Neil Armstrong observed from Iran also). Paul Makina brought his female relatives (mother & aunts), to say hi.

Paul Makina with his mother & aunts

He told me of a 70yr old grandmother in the village, who saw a total eclipse when she was a child (in Angola). There are such people in the world, who have seen 2 eclipses from the same general area.

I was working closely with many expeditions, & many scientists. Including Dr. Jay Pasachoff's Lusaka group (who coordinated his ground-based data with SOHO images), Dr. Glenn Schneider's (Univ of Arizona astronomer) group at Lower Zambezi Park, Dr. Barrie Jones (Open University, UK). Weather was the primary concern, so weather reports & communication (via satellite-phone & sat-phone email) was crucial.

I contacted Lt. Colonel Davies Ngambi (head, meteorological center in Lusaka), & connected him with Dr. Pasachoff, for near E-day weather reports.

Lt. Col. Davies Ngambi briefing me on weather

Dr. Jay Pasachoff briefing his group on 6/15 (overcast!)
Dr. Pasachoff forwarded me weather report from Mr . Ngambi, via his Ethernet connected eclipse-expedition (Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka), which I received on my Motorola Iridium satellite-phone (out in the boonies in Western Zambia). Thankfully, everyone got clear weather! (it was very worrisome in Lusaka, 1 week before E-day. Lots of clouds). It was a good team effort, to share weather info. Dr. Glenn Schneider gave me a weather update from Lower Zambezi Nat'l Park, via satellite phone.


[ preliminary expedition report ]

I just got back a few hrs ago. Whew! what an eclipse & what an adventure.

I worked closely with Daniel Fischer's German group, whose research 2 weeks before E-day proved invaluable (THAT's the way to approach an eclipse: thorough research. German precision! Click HERE for their official report). I had a strategy meeting on 6/14 to discuss logistics & weather at ZASTI (Lusaka). 3 days later (6/17) I met them at Lochnivar National Park, just as they were leaving (I was arriving). That morning, we were both nightsky observing, within a few km of each other. We met a 3rd time, on 6/28, since we had the same return flight (British Airways Flight #283) back to London Gatwick. We shared experiences, videos (after organizing our respective "offices". Man, was there was a lot of material to straighten out!).

Daniel Fischer visiting my seat (row 38), he was only a few rows up

Playing eclipse video, on his new Canon MV 330i (ZR10 in USA) mini-DV

German group @Kafue Park, nice setup

Daniel Fischer's group at Lochnivar National Park (6/17)

They even made reservations for me (to join their group at Kafue Park), at ZAWA. Their efforts were crucial to the success of my eclipse expedition.

I also ran into SEML member Cees Bassa (physics grad student in Netherlands) at a road block south of Lusaka. We were both on our way to Livingstone. Before E-day, I met Dr. Jay Pasachoff (Williams College) & Olivier Staiger (High Noon live webcast) at Hotel International in Lusaka. We firmed up our communication channels, to exchange weather reports near E-day.

Cees Bassa @roadblock, on Hwy to Livingstone

Talked to Dr. Glenn Schneider (U. of Arizona) via satellite phone, whose group was based in Lower Zambezi Nat'l Park, to get a weather report. I ran into Alberto Levy (noted eclipse photographer from Mexico) in Lusaka (Manda Hill shopping center), we were both buying eclipse T-shirts. On the bus-ride from London Gatwick to London Heathrow terminals, I ran into a group from Northern California. Dr. Harland Epps from Mt. Hamilton, & Ernie Pinii (noted eclipse photographer).

Clouds were a problem 1 week before E-day, in Lusaka. On arrival to Lusaka (6/14, Thursday), I immediately encountered 2 problems. Number 1, there were lots of scattered clouds (bad weather is not good for an eclipse).

scattered clouds on arrival in Lusaka on 6/14 (11am)

greeting sign, just before Immigration @Lusaka Int'l Airport
Number 2, one of my 2 check-in cases did not arrive! (I waited & waited..) Without it, my eclipse program is severely jeopardized. I filed a claim, & hoping it would arrive on the next flight from London (6/16, 2 days later!). I was told, it was very likely the computerized-system would find it (my thoughts? I'll believe it, when I see it!). I decided to relax, & setup homebase at ZASTI. I needed time to get supplies, & there was a really convenient shopping center called Manda Hill.

billboard advertisement @Manda Hill, using eclipse image

packing up supplies, after night of bushcamping (nighttime sky viewing)
The next day it was completely overcast!. That meant to me one thing: escape to West Zambia! How it cleared up on E-day, for all of Southern Africa, is a miracle.

We traveled 1st to Lochnivar National Park (south of Lusaka) for sightseeing, so we could go back north for a weather update closer to E-day. The pictures below depict a scene repeated throughout my Zambia outback travels: stop-and-go visits with villagers (the Real Africa!)...

approaching a village, just outside Lochnivar National Park...

...curious villagers checking-out the visitor...

...always an inquisitive smile...

...waving good-bye, after the stop-and-go visit
It was back north to Lusaka, to get a 2nd weather briefing from Lt. Col. Davies Ngambi (June 18, Monday):

curious villagers, outside Lochnivar National Park

Mr. Ngambi looking at satellite imagery & weather forecasts
It was finally time to make the trek to our destination: Kabompo. It took 2 days, since the last leg was dirt roads (with deep ditches). We made a pit-stop in Kitwe (the 1st motel I stayed in).

filling 5 gallon petrol cans (3 spares): real off-roading!

eclipse coverage on Zambian TV (European eclipse chasers)
The cross-grain ditches were frequent, & sometimes deep. It made travel slow (10mph), most of the time. At Solwezi, I met a Univ. of Zambia physics student (undergrad), Mr. Samukonga Gilbert.

Mr. Gilbert showing me ZNTB eclipse brochures

Mr. Gilbert wearing official ZNTB eclipse t-shirt
He was working for ZNTB (Zambia National Tourist Board), & needed to get to Chauvuma Falls (extreme West Zambia, on the Angola border). There was a large group, observing there. He gave me a poster, but we didn't have room for him.

I finally arrived at Kabompo, it was dominated by the very obvious Kabompo River. I found out there were some German eclipse-chasers, staying at a house. The ferry (for cars) was broken, so 200lbs of equipment was transferred by canoe! (then, by ox-cart to the site) Not a problem, it was fun. I made friends with the local farmers, who owned & farmed the islands (see pictures). There was a canoe dock near my site (30 yards away):

oxcart 4x4? (2 oxen = 2 sets of 4-hoofs)

ox carts are simple, but effective means of transport

sunflower on island (resembles the radially symmetric solar eclipse corona)

canoe dock at sunset
I was surprised to see them come to my site at night..by canoe! It was very dark (no moon), so I couldn't understand how they could see (or navigate). Answer: dark-adapted eyes after years of development. They climbed the 20 feet up..w/barefeet, no problem (one slip, & they fall in the river). They came to act as security guards for my driver & me (no doubt, they also wanted to be with the curious foreigner with all the equipment). Any time I adjusted the equipment, they would focus all their attention on me. I gave them looks through the 5" Astrophysics refractor (w/30mm Ultima eyepiece), of houses across the Kabompo River. They chuckled in delight, at something they had never seen before. Paul Makina astutely asked, "why was the left & right reversed in the image?" (refractors w/diagonals have this feature). The morning of June 22 (day after E-day), they took me canoeing to their island. They setup a beehive in a Musombu tree, to harvest honey:

beehive in Musombu tree (closeup)

anthive colony (in Musombu tree)

beehive in Musombu tree (wide view)

the Musombu tree containing beehive bears a green fruit

harvested honey (being taken across the river to Kabompo)

Paul Makina (& farmers) "scoping" the houses across the river

The nights were near freezing cold (high 30's to low 40's), & in the mornings you could see steam coming off the river. (the Kabompo River has warm water). All during the day, you saw canoes going up & down, even between the islands. One time, a woman canoed by singing. I will remember that for a long time. It was similar to Baja '91, where a local fisherman was casting his net & singing. The farmers talked about an American volunteer teacher (Deb Lein), in glowing terms. She was in Kabompo, Zambia on behalf of CMD (Christian Mission for the Deaf), teaching high-school mathematics & religion.

canoeing on the Kabompo River

Deb Lein briefing us (on eclipse & road conditions)

steam off the (warm) Kabompo River, in early AM (cold air)

lone canoeist on the Kabompo River

On the way back to Lusaka, we drove through the Copperbelt (northern section of Zambia, known for copper mining). It is very close to the Congo border (south), & the soil is very reddish in color. The trees alongside the road were glowing in fall colors: yellow, red intermixed with the green.

bush with pale-red flower

termite hills all over the place (big ones!)

Nighttime astrophotography & Southern Sky viewing was done on 10 nights. I actually remember THAT, more than the eclipse..and the eclipse itself was phenomenal! (I tracked Comet A2 Linear & saw it brighten considerably. saw it on the morning I left, the 28th. Mad dash back to Lusaka to catch my flight!! Crazy. I even lost my ticket to London!). Mars & Sagittarius near the zenith. Unreal. The entire Northern Cross & Vega (Cygnus) was still visible, as part of the Milky Way stretched horizon to horizon. Saw a ton of meteors. Even saw a -1 magnitude meteor, with persistent train. The zodiacal light was awesome. (Never saw it from 35 deg north).

AP 5.1" f8 EDT APO @Monze site, sunrise

piggyback telephoto setup @Mufumbwe site

2 check-in cases, for astro-equipment

camera & lens equipment

very noticeable zodiacal light, extending high above the western horizon

sunset w/moon over Ihaha camp (Chobe Nat'l Park), prior to nightsky session

Totally zombied out, up most of night, then sightseeing during day. I would watch Comet A2 Linear 3am til morning twilight. As sunrise broke, I would be stalking the fields taking nature photos:

small bush w/red leaves (fall colors were prevalent everywhere)
[ Kazangula, Zambia (near Botswana border) ]

bug on tree (well camouflaged)
[ Kazangula, Zambia (near Botswana border) ]

thistle being pollinated by ants
[ Kazangula, Zambia (near Botswana border) ]

tree with bean-like fruit
[ Kazangula, Zambia (near Botswana border) ]

new growth, in "biomass burn" area
[ Mufumbwe, Zambia (near Congo border) ]

termite eating our boxes (they dug channels overnight!)
[ Mufumbwe, Zambia (near Congo border) ]

Southern Sky star trial (partial moonlight)
[ Monze district, Zambia ]

Venus at morning twilight, before sunrise
[ Mufumbwe, Zambia (near Congo border) ]

Even got a hailstorm in Victoria Falls, with marble sized hailstones.

hailstones, as large as 3/4" in diameter

Italian photographers getting pelted by hail

Victoria Falls was certainly a highlight, at Livingstone. You could take helicopter or ultra-light rides.

closeup view of Victoria Falls

Ultralight aircraft, waiting for passenger

butterfly at Victoria Falls

the infamous Black Mamba (deadly poisonous)

Here are some pictures of the *real* Livingstone (not the fancy motels):

foodstand selling bananas & cooking oil

workers in Livingstone

Dew was a real problem, used matches to burn off dew from lenses. Really hampered astrophotography. I even got frost on my equipment, it got so cold in the AM, 40's (it's winter down there). mid-80s & toasty during the day. Food was great, no stool problems. People were real friendly, polite.

onlooker @Kabompo river-crossing

brother & sister, @village across Kabompo River

gregarious kids greeting me with: "how are you?"
[ on the way to Kabompo (near Congo border) ]

onlooker watching us load the canoe w/equipment
[ @Kabompo river-crossing ]

Mr. Katombo, owner of restaurant in Kabompo

visitor at restaurant

man & son (Kabompo river-crossing)

boy with pick-axe (Kabompo river-crossing)

2 women waiting to cross Kabompo River (by canoe)

boy carrying load (W. Zambia, near Congo Border)

woman & baby, sundown @West Zambian village (near Congo border)

Click HERE for more People photos

Travel in Zambia invokes memories of..potholes! Every size imaginable: small, medium, big, huge. Hitting a nasty pothole at speed will result in: flat tire, bent rim, or bad accident (in that order). The roads after Solwezi, were all dirt (they are marked as hiways on the map). Certain stretches were slow going (10mph), because of deep cross-grain ditches. (up to 1 feet deep). There are lots of people walking on the roadside. Lots of overloaded trucks, with people or cargo. Constantly seeing "biomass fires": smoke in the distance & ocassionally fires by the roadside.

lines of people in early AM, walking to work

disabled truck on the highway

truck loaded w/cargo & people

biomass fire, in the distance

Saw a few accidents, but the driving was fairly safe.

jack-knifed truck

this car collided with the truck

Always friendly smiles & waves, as we travelled in the outback.

truck-driver & passenger

thumbs up from a traveler

Wildlife viewing was one of the highlights of the trip. I decided to try Chobe National Park (Botswana), on advice from Deb Lein (volunteer US teacher in Kabompo). We crossed the Chobe River, via pontoon boat:

ferry crossing to Botswana (Chobe River)

Greyson Sulu & his S. African friend
Incredibly, my driver Greyson Sulu met his good friend from S. Africa (purely by luck). His big truck & our Landcruiser were on the same ferry. We bush-camped just outside the ferry-landing, which was part of the Chobe Game Reserve (wild animals about at night). Next day, I went to Kasane & hired out Venus Safaris, for a 24 hr safari-drive & overnight camping. Chobe National Park (Botswana), did not disappoint! Saw elephant, hippo, crocodile, giraffe, monitor lizard, water buck, impala, red lechwe, mongoose, fish eagle, et al.

lion & its prey (Cape Buffalo)

baby elephant grazing in trees

water buck surveying the safari 4x4

Click HERE for more wildlife photos

Camped out @Ihaha campsite in Chobe Nat'l Park. There were other 4x4 campers nearby (2 in immediate vicinity). I setup a nighttime observation site 100 yds down the beach, next to the shore. The Landcruiser was parked next to my equipment, in case I had to jump on it to escape a predator (lion). I actually fell asleep in the chair, while binocular observing (after all the daytime exertion). In retrospect, this was dangerous, since I would have made a tasty morsel for a lion or hyena. ("they will jump on you!", I was told). Greyson Sulu told me of a story about 2 foreigners (British & Aussie), who ignored warnings about camping alone next to the river. They were killed & eaten by lions. When I asked, how did they [ park rangers ] know, the reply was "..they found their heads..". As the saying goes, "Stupidity Is Its Own Reward"... My Venus Safari guide was warning me about late-night theft (termed "pinchings"), by Namibians in canoes. They would just be stealthy, & take valuable equipment (photographic, mainly). In the early AM hrs, I heard this weird sloshing sound (I thought it was people in canoes). Later, I found out it was crocodiles swimming & their mating rituals ("vibrating" their bodies).

this crocodile was munching on a dead lioness (Chobe National Park)

crocodile (big one!) sunning itself in the morning (Chobe National Park)

I was constantly warned, about not getting too close to the shore-line. Crocodiles will jump you. This is no exaggeration. I heard stories, about humans being eaten by crocodiles. Some of the man-eaters (who developed a taste for human flesh) have been caught, & put in captivity.

Food was great. I patronized a fast-food place called "Eat Now" many times, located in Mazabuka (south of Lusaka). It had some great grilled chicken, 9 pieces for 9000 Kwacha (~$2.50)! My driver Greyson Sulu took me to a *real* Zambian restaurant, in Livingstone.

Beef w/Nshima 3500 Kwacha (~$1.00)

eating at table, with Greyson Sulu

I wrapped up my trip by a nighttime observing run at Monze, on the day of my return flight (!). Comet A2 Linear was looking brighter, very noticeable naked-eye (more so, than when I arrived 2 weeks ago). I had to dash back to Lusaka, & picked up some souveneirs on the way:

incredible artwork, those giraffe carvings

beautiful animal carvings (teakwood & other wood)

I sent 3 packages back to USA, filled with souveneirs. One of them, was a foldable wood chair (I used it for nighttime observing). It was 13,000 Kwacha, or ~$3.00. It beats out anything I can buy in the USA! (everything there is imported from China). I barely made it back to ZASTI, to pack things up for my 6:30pm British Airways flight. I got to the counter 5:30pm (~1hr before the flight left), kinda late. 2hrs is recommended. Nevertheless, my check-in baggage was made it all the way back to LAX very smoothly. No hitches. However, on the way from London Gatwick to London Heathrow terminal, the bus broke-down! We were stuck on the hiway, with no gears. Another bus came by, & we transferred. Ernie Pinii (noted eclipse photographer) was on the bus, with a group from Northern California.

London Heathrow terminal (my plane to LAX is on far right)

all luggage returned promptly & safely @LAX (waiting for taxi, to go home)

I totally fell for Africa, will probably go there for 2002 eclipse in December. I got a safari tour in Chobe Nat'l Park (eclipse path 2002 crosses there), & the operator filled me in on weather patterns in December. I think it's do-able, but one has to be VERY MOBILE to dodge bad weather (rainy season).